Dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts
I am interested in the ability of the arts to create, sustain, and enhance communities on several levels. Artistic practice often involves asking difficult questions in a public space, allowing for communal reflection, sharing of experiences and emotions, and developing new understandings. The arts can tell stories that access core truths — historical, personal, imagined — freed from the distracting clutter (or noise) of daily life. An example is “The Hundredth Meridian Project,” our collectively developed multi-modal theater piece on the historical roots of the Western water crisis and its contemporary implications. This work-in-progress traces the discovery of the truth about land use in the Arid Region, the policy debates that ensued, and the subsequent lessons both learned and unlearned as they play out cyclically in modern times, creating an extended parable about how good science can lead to bad outcomes when ignored or distorted by forces that transcend the rational. The arts and history have a powerful interplay in this project and in many others that I have worked on, and I am always interested in exploring this nexus more deeply.
■ Librettist, “Stations for Mychal,” a song cycle for tenor, viola, and piano, commissioned for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by Texas State University. Kevin D. Salfen, composer.
■ In Review: Davis, R. (2018). Translating for singing: The theory, art and craft of translating lyrics. The Mercurian.
■ Davis, R. (2014). Plays by women, one theater’s story. Howlround Theatre Commons.